The Business of Travel


The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association

Week in Review

Thai-based hospitality group Minor Hotels has purchased an additional stock in NH Hotels, increasing its holding to 94%, Business Traveller reports. The purchase will enable Minor Hotels to expand in Europe, while also allowing NH Hotels to put down roots in Asia.

Icelandair has signed an agreement to buy budget airline WOW Air for nearly $18 million USD (approximately €15.9 million), Buying Business Travel notes.

According to France24, Airbnb is being sued by French hoteliers for unfair competition. The main trade group for French hotels, The Union of Trades and Industries of the Hotel Industry (UMIH) accuses the home-sharing company of “knowingly violating” certain imposed rules.

What will the election mean for business travel? Regardless of who wins or loses, a change in committee leadership means a change in governing philosophies, ultimately affecting our industry. Here are the main travel-related committees to keep an eye on.  

Birmingham Airport has unveiled a £500m master plan to increase capacity and improve the traveler experience, Buying Business Travel notes. The investment aligns with the airport’s desire to grow traffic by 40% (to 18 million passengers annually) by 2033.

Over the next 20 years, China will account for approximately 19% of the world’s aircraft demand, Business Traveller reports. According to Airbus’ Global Market Forecast, the country is projected to require nearly 7,400 new passenger and freighter aircraft.

Star Alliance is putting virtual reality technology to the test in select lounges, Business Traveller writes. Travelers flying through CDG in Paris and FCO in Rome can try out the virtual reality systems, which may eventually be offered on planes and across lounges globally.

The TSA will begin testing new technology that can screen multiple passengers from up to 25 feet away, Los Angeles Times reports. If the terahertz screening devices pass the initial tests at a TSA facility, they may be further tested at U.S. airports.  

According to IATA’s latest 20-Year Air Passenger Forecast, air traffic could double to 8.2 billion travelers in 2037. The forecast also outlines China, the United States, India, Indonesia and Thailand as the fastest growing aviation markets.

A no-deal Brexit would result in 5 million fewer outbound trips made globally by 2022, Travel Weekly reports. These findings come from a new study by Euromonitor International. They also claim Spain will see the brunt of this, since UK travelers account for nearly 21% of inbound revenues in the country.

Following in Lyft’s footsteps, ride-sharing company Uber has launched a Ride Pass subscription option in select cities, Business Traveller notes.

Chicago’s O’Hare Airport received a new 2.5 million square-foot parking and car rental facility on Wednesday, ABC7 reports. The $242 million facility features 13 car rental agencies, 12 electronic charging stations and “innovative parking guidance technology”.

Podcast: GBTA Advocacy Update

For this week’s episode, The Business of Travel talks with GBTA’s VP of Government Relations, Shane Downey. Shane provides updates on the latest advocacy efforts on the U.S. front including the FASTER Act, the PreCheck is PreCheck Act, Real ID and FAA Reauthorization.



Want to stay on top of the latest GBTA advocacy efforts on behalf of the business travel industry across the globe? Subscribe to Shane’s bi-weekly Politics of Travel email today. 

You can download and listen to The Business of Travel in iTunesStitcherGoogle Play and your other favorite podcast directories. Be sure to subscribe to the show so you don't miss out!

Podcast: Live from Center Stage at GBTA Convention 2018 Part 1

For this week’s episode, The Business of Travel takes you back to last week’s GBTA Convention. Hear all of Monday’s Center Stage sessions. First, up you’ll hear from Marriott International President and CEO Arne Sorenson in a one-on-one interview with GBTA Executive Director and COO Mike McCormick as he shares his outlook on the business travel industry, the shakeup over group commissions and the company’s home-sharing strategy.

Next up is a panel featuring Successful Women Leading in Business Travel, moderated by GBTA’s Allied Member of the Year honoree and the SVP and Chief Marketing Officer of Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Dorothy Dowling. The panel of top female business travel executives share their insights on the unique challenges they faced as women arriving in leadership positions within their companies.

Wrapping up today’s episode, you’ll hear our final Monday Center Stage session where TSA Administrator David Pekoske and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan took the stage together for the first-time in an interview with McCormick. The two highlighted technology’s potential to dramatically increase security and passenger facilitation.



You can download and listen to The Business of Travel in iTunesStitcherGoogle Play and your other favorite podcast directories. Be sure to subscribe to the show so you don't miss out!


Technology is Poised to “Dramatically Increase Security,” Say Heads of TSA and CBP

New facial recognition and CAT scan technologies are key to stopping terrorists, according to two of the nation’s highest security officials who spoke Monday on Center Stage at GBTA Convention 2018.

Transportation Security Administrator (TSA) David Pekoske calls for “better security faster” at Monday’s Q&A session with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, led by GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick. Pekoske said that we must get the technology in place faster than our adversaries, and faster than government has typically acted.

“There’s nothing I’m more excited about in our mission set than the capability of biometrics, and specifically facial recognition or comparison technology, to enhance our facilitation and security efforts,” McAleelan explained. Through pilot programs at multiple airports with a number of domestic and foreign carriers, he reported that the agency has been able to screen 700,000 travelers with biometrics and achieve a 98 percent match rate.

In addition to biometrics, new CAT scan technology will be able to do a much better job detecting threats such as those in luggage. Pekoske shared that his agency plans to replace 2,000 checkpoint x-ray machines with CAT scan technology. In addition to significantly enhanced screening capabilities, he predicted that in three to five years, passengers will not need to remove any items—including food, liquids, or electronics—from their carry-on bags.

In addition to enhanced security, he highlighted traveler benefits such as expedited boarding and arrivals, adding that his agency has been able hold or reduce wait times for five consecutive years using new technologies. Responding to security concerns, he stated the importance of technology remaining cyber secure, not retaining information on U.S. citizens, and maintaining transparency with the public, privacy groups, the media and legislators.

On the horizon, the two agencies will better integrate the PreCheck and Global Entry programs.

Commissioner McAleenan cited tracking ISIS operatives’ widely scattered movements throughout the world, and the 70 percent growth of e-commerce shipments as his top two concerns.

From his agency’s perspective, Administrator Pekoske reiterated the Commissioner’s terrorism concerns, adding that undetected operatives, “lone actors,” pose a real challenge to intelligence operations and those on the front lines. “Security is a shared responsibility,” he added, GBTA members, airlines, airports and passengers included.

Each with over 60,000 employees around the globe, keeping their teams prepared in uncertain times is an ongoing challenge. “I spend the majority of my time on the front line,” said Administrator Pekoske, which he explained includes not only security checkpoints, but also vetting processes, air marshals, and international staff at last-point-of-departure airports around the world to ensure they have the resources, technology and procedures in place to best do their jobs. Commissioner McAleenan underscored the challenge, noting that the travel industry’s ninth straight year of over four-percent growth in international air arrivals. He said he is focused on three imperatives: executing operationally, providing his staff with the tools they need to facilitate travel and improve the customer experience, and building partnerships with the aviation industry, international partners and other federal agencies, like CBP.

Both TSA and CBP garner an unprecedented level of coverage in the news cycle. When asked how his agency responds when, for example, an internal pilot like Quiet Skies program leaks into the public domain, Administrator Pekoske explained that he operates knowing that any new procedure or program can become public at any time. “Our job, both Kevin [McAleenan] and my job, is to manage and mitigate risk,” he continued, emphasizing that Quiet Skies looks at patterns of travel to help identify flights which may require an Air Marshal. “We have a very, very robust process inside TSA—which I think is absolutely necessary and something that I 100 percent endorse—of oversight from the Department of Homeland Security on all of our processes that assess risk by individuals.” Commissioner McAleenan agreed, adding that his agency faces “a tremendous amount of attention on all aspects of our mission, being responsible for anything that comes in or out of the country.”


Podcast: GBTA Convention 2018 Preview & Speaker Announcement

For this week’s episode, GBTA Executive Director and COO Mike McCormick takes over The Business of Travel to provide a Convention preview of our main stage speakers at Convention Arena and Center Stage. Mike also unveils our Wednesday lunch keynote, so be sure to tune in so you can hear it here first before next week’s official announcement!



You can download and listen to The Business of Travel in iTunesStitcherGoogle Play and your other favorite podcast directories. Be sure to subscribe to the show so you don't miss out!

Podcast: The Challenges of Security in Today’s Volatile World

For this week’s episode, The Business of Travel, GBTA previews an upcoming Center Stage session at Convention 2018 focused on safety and security in today’s volatile world while looking back on our Conference in Toronto where GBTA Executive Director and COO Mike McCormick interviewed officials from the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority and the Canadian Border Service Agency.



You can download and listen to The Business of Travel in iTunesStitcherGoogle Play and your other favorite podcast directories. Be sure to subscribe to the show so you don't miss out!

GBTA Testifies at House Homeland Security Subcommittee Hearing, Addresses TSA PreCheck Program and the Economic Impact of Travel Ban

Today, I testified on behalf of GBTA at a hearing held by the Homeland Security Committee’s House Subcommittee on Transportation and Protective Security. The purpose of the hearing, Addressing The TSA Checkpoint: The PreCheck Program and Airport Wait Times, was to examine both TSA, GAO, and private sector stakeholder perspectives relating to the TSA PreCheck program, as well as the agency’s airport wait times mitigation strategy going into the busy Summer travel season.

It cannot be overstated how important travel is to the U.S. economy... or any economy. As we always say, ‘Business travel drives business growth’. Companies invest in business travel to drive new business, create new jobs and build shareholder value.

As the busy summer travel season ramps up, GBTA is concerned past travel problems in screening as well as past statements and policies on foreign visitation will impact the rest of 2018 and beyond. The nation’s businesses spent $424 billion to send travelers out on the road for 514.4 million domestic business trips including roughly 144 million round trip flights. Because of this mass of travelers, GBTA has made secure and efficient travel a key platform of GBTA’s legislative policy and has been a supporter of TSA PreCheck since its first iteration as Registered Traveler.

Subcommittee Chairman Rep. John Katko (R-NY) asked about cooperation from TSA and areas for improvement and growth. Our interaction with TSA has been terrific, but the reality is some of these areas we must accelerate, particularly the marketing of the programs to corporations.

Rep. Katko also added that PreCheck should not be used to manage traffic at airports, especially under the guise of risk-based security.

Regarding managed inclusion, GBTA believes its continued practice undermines the impetus to enroll and calls into question the entire premise of the program, which is prescreening travelers who through background checks have been identified as “safe” before they arrive at the airport. It’s time to finally put an end to this practice, which confers all the benefits of PreCheck without requiring any of the burdens.

TSA PreCheck cannot be the sole answer to long security lines. Accurate travel numbers, well thought out policies and solid analysis of historical data and forecasts, like the “GBTA BTI™ Outlook – Annual Global Report & Forecast” are key to TSA’s ability to adequately staff checkpoints.

Ranking Chair Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) asked what message do the President’s policies and rhetoric send international visitors.

We are at a time of conflicting and sometimes seemingly contradictory views on how the business travel marketplace is trending – and what the future holds. On one hand, as lower corporate tax rates are pushed forward and business regulations are rolled back, some would argue that business travel is healthy. But other underlying factors have a decidedly more negative impact on the future of business travel including trade policy renegotiation, terrorism, travel and immigration bans, sanctions, electronics bans and geopolitical tensions.

GBTA projected a loss of over $1.3 billion in overall travel-related expenditures in the U.S. in 2017 including hotels, food, rental cars and shopping expenses that inbound travelers would have spent due to global uncertainty driven by current administration policies.

We have an obligation as a country to address the issues and to give companies that are driving the economy the support they need.

Watch the full hearing.

Convention Memories - Part 1

Remember that time an earthquake coincided with Convention? We do. After decades of hosting our annual event, almost nothing comes as a surprise. This year represents an incredible milestone in our history, as we’ll be celebrating the 50th anniversary of GBTA Convention in San Diego in August. To commemorate this occasion, we’ve been reaching out to past attendees to collect their most standout memories of Convention. If you’d like to get involved and celebrate with us, share your favorite, first, or most standout memory here.

David Lim, TSA

Kim Conway, Fragomen

Lisa Grobien, Conichi

Visit the GBTA Blog every Thursday for more throwback posts, and share your favorite Convention memories with us on Twitter using #TBT and tagging @GlobalBTA!

Week in Review

On Monday, Congress brought an end to a three-day government shutdown after Senate Democrats agreed to a funding bill that will keep the federal government open until February 8, The New York Times reports.

Last May, GBTA conservatively projected a loss of $1.3 billion in travel-related expenditures in the U.S. in 2017 due to mounting geopolitical uncertainty. New figures out this week show a slump in U.S. tourism resulting in $4.6 billion in lost spending and 40,000 jobs.

Some hotels have been charging guests for bad online reviews, The Economist notes. The question remains: can hotels legally pressure guests into leaving positive reviews?

According to USA TODAY, biometric boarding would facilitate the security process and prevent stowaways from getting aboard.

Major Chinese airlines have lifted the ban on in-flight smartphone usage, TechRepublic reports. The Civil Administration of China has loosened regulations, making it easier for business travelers to be productive.

Norwegian Airlines set the record for the fastest transatlantic flight last week, Bloomberg notes. The New York to London flight arrived in only five hours and 13 minutes, which was 53 minutes ahead of schedule.

According to HotelMarketing’com, U.S. hotel revenue rose 3% in 2017.

This week’s Throwback Thursday post looked back at GBTA and the evolution of business travel through the 1970s. Airline deregulation was perhaps the greatest 1970s industry milestone that solidified the value of corporate travel management.

TripIt is now capable of tracking the length of security waiting times in real-time, SFGATE reports.

Following in the path of its fellow airlines, Alitalia will begin offering cheaper “Hand Baggage Only” fares on select routes, Business Traveller notes.

According to Skift, American and Delta will begin collaborating again to rebook passengers on each other’s flights during periods of disruption.

Choice Hotels debuted a new booking system for its 6,500 franchisees in order to replace its outdated technology, Skift reports.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch has launched enhanced virtual card capabilities, including the ability to create single-use account numbers in real-time, Buying Business Travel notes.

Week in Review

Happy New Year! The Week in Review is back in action to inform you of the latest news and trends in business travel.

Travelers were in for quite the ride this week, as winter storms and unfavorable weather conditions wreaked havoc on travel worldwide.

On Wednesday morning, Storm Eleanor’s high gusts and rain disrupted travel throughout the United Kingdom, Buying Business Travel reports.  

In the United States, airlines canceled 4,000 flights on Thursday due to the winter “bomb cyclone” spanning across the East Coast, according to USA TODAY.

Delhi’s international airport started off the new year with hundreds of flight delays, diversions and cancellations, as a dense fog enveloped the city, Business Traveller reports.  

In more uplifting news, United Press International shares findings from a new report suggesting 2017 was the safest year for commercial airline travel. The report claims there were 111 total accidents with only two resulting in fatalities.

Leading up to our 50th Annual Convention in San Diego, we’ll be featuring weekly Throwback Thursday (#TBT) posts and sharing pieces of history from Convention, the travel management industry and general travel industry. This week, we took a look at the early years, when GBTA was originally founded as the National Passenger Traffic Association in 1968.

USA TODAY claims Hilton is changing its “Do Not Disturb” sign policy. The brand is advising team members to alert security if a sign has been on a guest’s door for over 24 hours.Buying Business Travel notes Concur rebranded as SAP Concur as the two brands continue to combine. SAP completed its acquisition of Concur over three years ago in December 2014.

Heathrow reduced its airport fees for domestic flights by £15, Business Traveller reports.

The TSA will begin enforcing REAL ID requirements at U.S. airports this month, but for now, there’s no need to worry. Skift notes the passenger deadline has been extended for driver’s license requirements on domestic flights.

According to Skift, IAG plans to acquire Austria’s Niki Air in a $24 million deal. The same source notes expense reporting software Chrome River raised $35 million in funding.

As we go into the new year, TheStreet notes airfare prices and hotel prices are expected to rise 3.5% and 3.7%, respectively.


Your list for this week comes from Tnooz:

The Top Six Technology Priorities for Airports in 2018